What is a Liberal Arts Education?

A Child without education, is like a bird without wings.

~Tibetan Proverb

 

 What is a Liberal Arts Education?

Liberal arts education originated in Greece and was considered the mark of an educated individual, so really you were not even listed to if you did not have this type of education to begin with. During the Greco-Rome world liberal arts education was essential for an individual in civil life, you would be able to participate in public debate, serve in court and on jury, defend oneself, and perform military service. Back then there was only the trivium (Grammar, rhetoric and logic) teachings but through the Middle Ages it grew to add the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy) teachings with the trivium considered a preparatory of the next quadrivium. Later theology and philosophy was added being considered a higher education yet. The idea behind this type of education was to develop an individual that would be well-rounded, knowledge in a variety of subjects, mastering the ability on transferable skills in all aspects of life, pursuit of lifelong learning and be “global citizens” and strong members of the community. Of course over the years there are more courses added to this base as we learn more in science, art, technology, law and so on. Today’s Liberal arts degree is interdisciplinary and varied topics and varied within each institution as well, in general though the accepted spectrum in liberal arts/science are:

 

  • Natural Sciences – Archaeology, Astronomy, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Geology, Physics, Zoology, etc.
  • Formal Sciences – mathematics, Information Theory, logic, statistics, Theoretical Computer Science, etc.
  • Social Sciences – Anthropology, Economics, Demography, Geography, Gender Studies, Sociology, Human Geography, History, law, politics, psychology, sociology, etc.
  • Humanities – Philosophy, Literature, Religion, Art & Art History, Music, Language, History, Culture, Music, etc.

 

Here is story to read about a person’s time at a Liberal Arts institute. “My life at a Liberal Arts College”

Some Institutions offer a major in any of these topics but in a strictly liberal arts institute is does not matter your major as all will be interdisciplinary and considered liberal arts. Students will have an appreciation how multiple disciplines contribute to solving complex problems. You can see how students of a liberal arts education have an opportunity to explore a variety of academic disciplines rather than following a rubric that trains them for a job. According to David Helfand employers are seeking qualified graduates who have “communication, collaboration, and creativity”. This sounds to me like a base knowledge and experience in service to others, an understanding and appreciation in diversity and ethical issues, critical thinking skills, ability to cross into other areas of employment and be a valuable asset to the company. These skills are just not a natural skill that someone has or does not, it is a learned skill spectrum and I feel the most effective way is through a liberal arts education. Here is a short list of general skills obtained by a liberal arts education.

  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to be sensitive to others and be tolerant of cultural differences
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to work independently and successful use of time
  • Foreign language skills and cross-cultural knowledge
  • Ability to learn and synthesize new ideas
  • Experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Analytical, evaluative, critical and creative thinking skills
  • Critical and reflective reading skills
  • Numerical skills
  • Problem-solving
  • research skills
  • Effect listening and stronger communication
  • literacy skills
  • Ability to adapt easily to situations
  • Ethical decision-making skills
  • Ability to produce meaningful questions and obtain answers
  • Strong Self-confidence
  • Organization and time-management skills
  • Compassion and respect

 

One more thing I feel is also extremely important in the education is learning from original text. This means that you learn from Plato’s writings itself not the Simon and Bob book that gives their opinion of the text. Learning from original text also gives you the learner to view different ideas and create your own opinions not influenced by a modern scholar that wrote the entire text in his opinions. In learning this way you also acquire skills in research, writing, and become a lifelong learner always growing as an individual not just for a company. 

I believe that a liberal arts education is the most effective and only way to be educated. I would love to see the elementary and high schools transfer into liberal arts graduates and more college and universities become specialized liberal arts institutes, this would solve so many of the world’s problems, even the problems of racism would be reduced because with a liberal arts education you will have a stronger understanding of all nationalities, religions, genders, and cultures. I believe that hatred is ignorance and a cure for ignorance is education and a liberal arts education will give you the widest spectrum of understanding out of all forms of education. I have heard it said that a liberal arts education develops both the left and right side of the brain. This would create strong and effective problem solving skills by using analytical and creative processes. In using all the knowledge within the liberal arts spectrum you are able to connect how everything fits together, ever tell yourself in school “I am never going to need this in my life why am I learning this?” Well with this form of education you will see how it all connects, how everything is related to each other and a better appreciation for all things. I recommend finding a liberal arts institute that values small interactive classes, with highly qualified faculty who constructively challenge what students read, see and hear. The Liberal Arts College differ from other “regular” colleges and universities in its methods of teaching as well. Liberal Arts College rely completely on teacher student interaction, strong conversation between the two to talk it out, mentor and collaborate. The professors are full-time becoming mentors and partners opposed to the combination of teaching assistants and research professors like in “regular” institutes. Majority of Liberal arts colleges are small class sizes with a smaller enrolment (low teacher-student ratio).

What careers will you be able to achieve with a liberal arts education? First off this form of education is multi-disciplinary so you can go into anything and major in anything you dream of. The skills learned through this education is functional in life, marriage, parenthood, business, and even just for fun hobbies. It will help you to achieve success in every aspect of your day and how to deal with the tough times and tough problems and find effective long lasting solutions. But for instance here are some majors that can be achieved but are not limited to this list.

  • A wide range of professional careers in public service, military service, archaeologist, museum director, librarian, engineering, mechanic/heavy duty mechanic, aviation, curator, teacher/professor, manager, medicine, national security, photography, commercial art, painting, interior, music, graphic and visual design, many liberal arts students learn at least one foreign language qualifying you as a translator, transcriber or interpreter, foreign language teacher or journalist, or in tourism and travel. Also advertising, promotions, public relations, journalism, news editing or copywriting, politics, business, and working for NGOs and charities. Or you can go into healthcare, laboratory assistant, research assistant, entrepreneur, store manager, salesperson, event planning, conservation, finance – banker, accountant, financial analyst, law enforcement, research analysis, counselling or therapy, and the list goes on.

 

Here is a list of Liberal Arts Institues that I can find, if you know of any that I have missed please let me know I would be happy to add them to the list.

These two are not classified as Liberal arts institutes today but are the first of the liberal arts education of the time in this land. However even though it does not classify as a liberal art school they still do value a liberal arts education and you can acquire one through them as I have found on their website.

 

 I do not rank these as one better than another, that you will have to do your own research, talk to the admissions department and even visit the institute if you can.  Go with what feels right, the style, comfort and some have excellent scholarship’s that can help you pay for your courses, this is an investment into your future, do what feels right, challenges you, balance, and feeds your passions and stimulates your curiosity.

 

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

~Aristotle

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